Thursday, September 15, 2005

Malpractice Insurers Faulted

From the September 2005 issue of Cortlandt Forum
The nation’s 15 largest malpractice insurance carriers took in three times as much in premiums last year as they paid out in claims. And over the past five years, their premiums have doubled while their payouts have remained flat, according to a newly released study.
“Doctors have been overcharged for several years,” said Jay Angoff, a former Missouri insurance commissioner who conducted the study, which was based on the insurance companies’ own data. “The numbers underscore the need for tougher oversight to prevent profiteering,” adds Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut attorney general, who joined Angoff at the New York City press conference where the study was presented.
Angoff contrasted his data with those used by insurance companies to justify rate increases or lobby for caps on malpractice awards. “Their figures are largely estimated or are unverifiable or both. They’ve been off by up to 40%,” he said. Angoff’s data come from either the companies’ annual reports or filings with state authorities — “figures that haven’t been comprehensively analyzed before,” Angoff says. The companies include AIG, HCI, The Doctors Company, American Physicians Capital, GE Medical Protective, and Continental Casualty.
Angoff found that several insurers increased their premiums even though their claims payments actually fell, in some cases substantially. ProNational and Medical Assurance, both affiliates of the ProAssurance Corporation, as well as the AIG affiliate Lexington Insurance, were among the worst offenders. Medical Assurance, for example, increased its premiums 89% in 2004 even though its payments decreased by a third. The company paid out only 10 cents in claims for each premium dollar collected. ProNational paid out 13 cents and Lexington 14 cents.
“Perhaps most striking,” said Angoff, “in 2004, these 15 insurers increased their earned premium by 9.3%, even though the amount they estimated they would pay out in the future declined by 21.1%.”
The 25-page study, Falling Claims and Rising Premiums in the Medical Malpractice Insurance Industry, is available from the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York City (
www.centerjd/ANGOFFReport.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2005).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mississippi Psychiatric Association Katrina site

Mississippi psychiatrists needed. See this new blog:

Quest for Gas (part 2)

For those 2-3 people out there who are curious, I was able to get a rental car today at the Jackson MS airport with a full tank of gas (call ahead if you are thinking of doing this, most of the agencies are out of cars and gas, and many cars have been reserved by FEMA).
Still no electricity.

APA backs same-sex civil marriages

From Psychiatric News:
The APA Board of Trustees took a historic step at its July meeting when it made APA the first medical specialty society to support legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage.
Such a position statement had been endorsed by the Assembly at its May meeting in Atlanta (Psychiatric News, June 17). It expands APA's existing position in support of same-sex civil unions and emphasizes the mental health consequences of denying same-sex couples the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The legal rights to which these couples do not have access can include visiting an ill partner in the hospital, making health care decisions for a disabled partner, financial and retirement planning to prepare for emergencies or a financially secure future, and, in the case of parents, being able to raise a child when the biological parent is unable.
The statement, which applies to civil and not religious marriage, notes that same-sex couples "experience several kinds of state-sanctioned discrimination that can adversely affect the stability of their relationships and their mental health." It also points out that "there is ample evidence that long-term spousal and family support enhances physical and mental health at all stages of development."

I'll leave it for others to comment on this as I don't want to jeopardize my current job or my 2 future jobs.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Legendary jazz musicians missing

Fox News reports that several notable New Orleans musicians, including "Fats" Domino, are missing.

The Quest for Gas (Jackson, Mississippi)

This morning I got into a line for gasoline that was almost a quarter of a mile long. After going about 30 yards in 30 minutes, I left.
Most of the pumps have electricity now, the problem is a fuel shortage. Most of the gas stations in the Jackson area are out of gas. I heard that there is gas in Canton (about 20-30 miles north of Jackson), but I only have enough gas in the tank to drive 10-15 miles.
Earlier today, I thought that the easiest way to get gas might be to get a rental car with a full tank. I reserved a rental car at the local airport on-line, and even arranged a ride from a resident to pick it up tomorow morning. However, it turns out that the car rental companies are out of gas too.
Little work is being done today at the hospital. Everyone (including myself) is obsessed with electricity, gas, and ice. Some areas are starting to get electricity (not me), but the gas situation is not expected to get better until after the Labor Day holiday.